Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC fined by FEC for researching Trump-Russia dossier

The DNC was fined $105,000 and the Clinton campaign was fined $8,000, according to a letter sent by the Federal Election Commission to a conservative group that called for an investigation.

Candidates and political groups are required to publicly disclose their expenses to the FEC, and they must explain the purpose of any specific expenses over $200. The FEC found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC misreported the money that funded the dossier, masking it as “legal services” and “legal and compliance advice” instead of opposition research.

The dossier was compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele. It contained unverified and salacious allegations about Donald Trump, including allegations that his campaign colluded with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election. Trump’s campaign had extensive contact with Russian operatives and accepted the Russian aid, but no one has ever been officially accused of conspiring with Russia.
The financial trail behind the Steele dossier has been the subject of intense political scrutiny for years. More than $1 million was paid by the Clinton and DNC campaign to law firm Perkins Coie, which then hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS. That company then hired Steele and asked him to use his overseas contacts to dig up information about Trump’s ties to Russia.
Steele maintained that his research was unverified, required further investigation, and was not intended for public disclosure. But his memos were leaked in January 2017, weeks before Trump took office. Over the years, a series of investigations and lawsuits have discredited many of Steele’s central allegations of collusion and exposed Steele’s unreliability of supply.

In the letter announcing the fines, the FEC also revealed that it had dismissed related complaints against Steele, Perkins Coie and Fusion GPS, all of which had previously denied wrongdoing.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC have never admitted to violating campaign finance laws, but they have agreed to drop their denial and accept civil penalties, according to the FEC letter.

A DNC spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday that it had “addressed the aging and silly complaints” from the FEC regarding 2016.

A lawyer who represented the Clinton campaign in the FEC case did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. Both entities have previously said they do not know details of Steele’s work in real time. They also said the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia posed a national security risk – which was the same conclusion reached by a bipartisan Senate investigation in 2020.

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